Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Leighton shines as Flyers build 2-0 series lead

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
It's hard to fathom that Michael Leighton has played exactly 4 1/2 games of playoff hockey. It's also hard to fathom that the Flyers pulled this guy off the scrap heap in the middle of the season. Now, led by the goalie with no playoff experience that no one else wanted, the Flyers once again cruised past the Canadiens, winning 3-0, to take a 2 games to 0 lead over the Canadiens in the Eastern Conference Final.

Game 2 was all about Leighton, who somehow kept the Canadiens off the scoreboard all game long despite a barrage of 26 shots in the first two periods. The numbers Leighton is putting up are ridiculous, from the back to back shutouts to the nearly 166 minutes he has gone without giving up a goal. While the Flyers don't need Leighton to stand on his head to win, he deserves credit for helping the Flyers steal a game in which they were outplayed for most of the night.

As for the Flyers offense, their power play continues to be the catalyst, going 2 for 4 in Game 2. The Flyers got their usual spread of goal-scorers, with the red-hot Danny Briere notching his 9th goal of the playoffs, Simon Gagne continuing his tear since returning from injury with yet another goal and Ville Leino scoring once again to prove he was a steal of an acquisition by Paul Holmgren. The best thing that can be said about the Flyers offense is that they are making Jaroslav Halak, who silenced both the Capitals and the Penguins potent attacks, look like a below average goalie. It's clear that the Flyers have gotten into Halak's head and crushed whatever confidence he had after the first two rounds of the playoffs.

The Eastern Conference Final now shifts to Montreal and the Flyers are in the exact position they wanted to be. With Montreal being a very difficult building to play in, the Flyers needed to take care of their home ice. Now the Flyers goal should be to take at least 1 out of 2 in Montreal then look to wrap things up back in Philly in Game 5. As we have learned from the Boston series, though, the Flyers can't start making Stanley Cup Finals plans just yet. All it takes is one win by the Canadiens to shift the momentum of the series and put the Flyers back on their heels. With how badly the Flyers are beating them, however, Montreal is going to have to make some serious adjustments if they want to win 4 out of the next 5 games.

6 more wins to go for the Flyers. With the confidence they are playing with now, why did we ever doubt them?

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